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Esters and Anhydrides

Phosphoric acid can form esters with alcohols. It can form monoesters, diesters, and triesters. A general representation of the formation of phosphoesters is given below. R represents the alkyl group.


Besides esters, phosphoric acid forms anhydrides such as phosphoric anhydrides by reacting with themselves. One such combination is shown in the below figure.


These anhydrides are biologically useful since the —P—O—P— linkages found in them are high energy linkages, and are used by the body to store energy. When energy is required, the linkage is hydrolyzed to give off the stored energy which is in turn used for the metabolic processes in the body.

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